Winter woodlands offer great opportunities for wildlife
watching so why not join us on a nature safari and take a few tips from the Nature's
Here are several activities that you can try out during
the winter months.
to the woods for a glimpse of winter wildlife.|
The New Forest is a good place to watch Toads in winter
due to its many ponds which provide ideal habitats for mating and spawning.
February visitors can witness the Toad breeding season, but to make the most of
this nature activity, you'll need to differentiate between Toads and Frogs.
and Toad differences
Toads have a rougher, warty texture to their skin than Frogs - the warts contain
a toxic secretion to protect them from predators.
* Females are generally
larger than male Toads.
* Olive-brown skin colour.
* Orange eyes with
black pupils. Compare this with the picture of the Frog above.
* Toads tend
to walk or crawl rather than hop because they have weaker hind legs than frogs.
* Males can be easily recognised by the nuptial pads on their forelimbs
which are used to cling on to females during the mating season.
* Only male
When to see the toads
for ponds where the Toads go to mate in the breeding season.
You won't see
many Toads during the daytime because they tend to keep underwater to avoid predators.
time is the best time to see them during the safety of darkness when they emerge
Getting to a pond can be a hazardous business for the Toads - many
get killed crossing roads at nigh time.
Why not join a Toad Patrol for a
better view - join a night time group and you could save a Toad's life.
New Forest patrol have been known to rescue as many as 150 Toads in one evening.
find out more about amphibians - contact the ARG
Crags in Yorkshire is one of the best places in Britain to see the Northern Hairy
Ant in its home environment.
Look out for ant hills up to six feet in height
- they are often covered by piles of pine needles, leaves and twigs.
Once up close and personal, take a magnifying glass or binoculars to identify
the ants' hairy eyebrows.
* Watch for workers
carrying out different roles but don't disturb them too much - watch don't interfere
with the nest.
* Hairy ants are highly defensive
and their primary weapon is Formic Acid so why not try a quick test.
Place a piece of litmus paper on the nest and watch the ants go for it - you'll
be able see the paper change colour.
* A PH
value of 14 is extremely alkaline whilst pH 1 one is very acidic. You should find
that the paper turns almost bright red with a pH value of around 1.5, in response
to the Formic Acid.
- bird song
to bird song is an activity you can have fun with in almost any woodland during
February is an especially good month to hear native bird song
because it's at this time of the year that British birds are at their most vocal.
Thrush - repeats its note several times.
- a short, distinctive phrasing characterises its song which accelerates and descends
with a flourish at the end of the sequence.
Tit - short, 'peeping' bursts.
Tit - a squeaky, continuous, peeping sound.
Tit - a longer, chirping call.
- a tuneful trilling song.
For the best bird
song, turn up early during the dawn chorus and bring a video recorder so you can
film and record the birds at the same time.
Alternatively, why not use an
mp3 player and its dictation microphone to pick up the sounds of the birds.
take your recorder back home, play back the sounds and match the bird to the song
- it's a great way of teaching yourself bird song!
The BBC Science and
Nature website has a good section on identifying
There are also many recordings available on CD and on
the internet including on the RSPB
website in the A-Z Guide to UK Birds section.